by Stacy Wiedmaier
The confusion over which local organizations are required to pay usage fees for English Landing Park and which ones were promised exemption was settled with the passage of an ordinance Tuesday evening at Parkville’s regular board of aldermen meeting.
The ordinance overrides an internal memo sent by mayor Kathy Dusenbery more than a year ago. That memo instructed city staff to exempt certain organizations from paying park fees.
Within the last month, the topic has been raised by Parkville’s Community Land and Recreation Board (CLARB) when they discussed a policy which exempts certain groups from paying a usage fee for events. They forwarded their concerns to the board of aldermen who clarified the situation by passing an ordinance and resolution.
As Parkville ordinances state, the board of aldermen approved a set of facility usage and permit fees in December 2005. Included in the city codes, event fees are set as $30 for application, $350 for a small event permit and $750 for a large use permit to use the public English Landing Park. Violating these ordinances could amount to a $500 fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both. The fees are used to maintain the park and costs of cleaning up an event.
Although this ordinance exists in city codes, an internal memo was sent by Parkville mayor Kathy Dusenbery to city staff in July 2006 stating “Any organization that has an on-going relationship with the City of Parkville or has entered into a mutual agreement regarding facility usage with the City of Parkville shall be exempted from paying the customary fees as determined by staff. This policy excludes the major events like Jazz Fest, Fourth of July, Parkville Days and similar events.”
The list of organizations exempt from fees included Park University, Park Hill School District, Friends of Parkville Animal Shelter and multiple homeowners associations. Event organizers for the city’s annual Christmas on the River celebration approached the board at their last meeting requesting the fee be waived, “as you have done for other non-profit organizations.”
But at this week's meeting, a resolution was passed to rescind the interim parks and recreation department policy, the one that exempted some organizations from paying the fee. The new policy that passed Tuesday states that the previous policy “was not presented to CLARB or the board of aldermen for approval. After consulting with our city attorney on the validity of the document, the recommendation is to create a resolution rescinding this policy.”
Little discussion was held before the item was passed, with Dusenbery saying, “We didn’t follow this anyway.”
Another ordinance was passed alongside the first, eliminating the one percent fundraiser fee and a $30 application fee. As it states, “Through the feedback of the public and CLARB, the (fundraiser and application) fees created confusion and a grey area. This elimination will create a simplified process for park users and the city.”
It went on to state CLARB will be reviewing park guidelines and recommending amendments to the board early next year.